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Issue 1088

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Review

Company Freak: Le Disco Social (Superlatude)

Company Freak CD cover pic

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UK release date 05.05.2014

Disco revival supergroup Company Freak have got it going on, folks. Itâs unashamedly retro and as funky as f**k!

Their debut seven track EP âLe Disco Socialâ is a tasty appetiser ahead of the main course of their debut full album due to drop later this year.

Reminiscent of the sound and era of Studio 54, the Paradise Garage and Salsoul Records, Company Freak is made up of a multi-generational cast of vocalists and session players â from actual 70s and 80s disco legends, to up-and-coming 21st century stars. The debut album later this year will feature icons like Jocelyn Brown and Sarah Dash (Labelle), and lost treasures Vivian Reed and Asha Puthli.

The EP is a homage to 70s orchestral disco-soul and 80s post-disco of artists like Chic, Change, Kool & The Gang, Boney M, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, and Midnight Star - Company Freakâs retro sound recalls the freewheeling sound of Studio 54 and the Paradise Garage, and the glistening nu-disco of the likes Scissor Sisters, Daft Punk, Hot Chip, Jessica 6 and Tensnake.

Mixed by Eric Broucek (LCD Soundsystem) and engineered by Alex Nizich (Hercules & Love Affair, Antony & The Johnsons), Company Freak are a revolving multi-generational cast of vocalists and session playersâ a surprise return of actual dance music legends from the 70s and 80s performing alongside up-and-coming 21st century starsâ¦

EP highlights include the empowering opener âTheme from Company Freakâ and the orchestral synth-funk and electro 80s boogie of âSexaholic,â featuring multi Tony-nominated Broadway and disco legend Vivian Reed (complete with Jodie Harsh remixes). Elsewhere thereâs the eastern infused âIstanbul Disco,â the addictive Sylvester track âDo You Wanna Funk,â and throbbing funk politics of âCrackdown.â And then thereâs âAndré Leon Talleyâ â a dance-floor anthem celebrating individualism and self-pride, and doubling as an homage to fabulous fashion superstar André Leon Talley, the former editor-at-large of Vogue and Americaâs Next Top Model star.
"I think one of the most important gifts you can give yourself in this life is to be unapologetically proud of yourself at every moment, at every turn, with everyone in your life, just like André Leon Talley,â says Jason King, who writes, arranges and produces all of Company Freakâs music

âThe idea for Company Freak came a couple of years ago when I was living in Asia and getting inspired by global dance music,â explains King, who is no stranger to the industry, as a protégé of Clive Davis and director of Cliveâs innovative music program at New York University. The former manager to electronic wizard Jimmy Edgar (Azealia Banks, Theophilus London). âI basically grew up on disco; that was when music had arrangement, structure, drama, sophistication, and style. I wanted to recapture that sound.â
Drawing on the talents of his world-class musician friends in the US, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, Jason began to develop the sound for Company Freak. âFor me, disco was always international. Iâm thinking of the music of artists like Manu Dibango, Cerrone, and Giorgio Moroder. I wanted Company Freak to have that authentic cosmopolitan feel.â

Company Freak vocalists include Shayna Steele (Rihanna), Melissa Musique (Chrisette Michelle, Jessie J.), Matia Washington (The Clark Sisters, John Legend) and Jason King himself on falsetto duties, whilst the legendary Jocelyn Brown and Labelleâs Sarah Dash are already confirmed for the album. Instrumentalists include bassist Steve Styles (Alicia Keys, Demi Lovato), keyboardist John Stanley (Patti Labelle, Luther Vandross), drummer Gintas Janusonis (Ultra Naté, Masters at Work), and horn players Casey Benjamin (Robert Glasper Experience) and Kenyatta Beasley (Prince, Lauryn Hill).

Musician, lecturer and writer Jason King, is best friend of Spike Lee (Jason was featured in Lee's Bad 25 documentary on Michael Jackson), and he is considered an expert on Motown, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, D'Angelo and of course 70/80s disco and soul.

Heâs a clever geezer and gonna do very well with this project - not in any way a pastiche, because you can tell it is from the heart and delivered with a touch of class. He's a name to watch out for in the future. Donât blame it on the sunshine, donât blame it on the moonlight, blame it on the boogie â and on Mr King.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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